Taking a trip over the Atlantic today to chat with Canadian writer Sandy Day, author of the wonderfully titled Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand. You can order a copy of the book here.
First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I live in Georgina, which is a beautiful woodsy place on the south shore of Lake Simcoe in Ontario, Canada. I’m originally from Toronto but I moved up to cottage country a few years ago. I love small town living.
What inspired you to start writing?
Writing helps me psychologically; I think it always has. I’ve written for as long as I can remember, always in a journal, and when I was younger I wrote buckets of poetry. I still like writing short forms such as flash fiction, short stories, and novellas but poems have eluded me for the last several years. Ideas are always surfacing in my mind; some get written but many languish there because there’s only so much time.
Tell me about your journey to publication
Many of my poems were published in literary journals during the 1970s and 1980s, which was very encouraging for me. I’ve always been an entrepreneur, starting with the time I set up a stand in front of my house and sold a bunch of my sister’s stuff. Even though I studied literature and creative writing in university, for most of my adult life I worked in retail marketing. I’m also an impatient person and once I’d written my first book (at age 50) I was anxious to start writing another one. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time seeking a publisher, so I published it myself. In the subsequent years I learned everything I could about indie authoring and book marketing from podcasts. My second book has sold very well so I am enthused about the indie pub method.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
My latest book, Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand is about a seventeen year old girl’s trip to visit her aunt on Cape Breton Island during the summer of 1978. Livvy is a confused young woman. She’s a quasi-feminist but she’s obsessed with her absent boyfriend and self-centred as only a teenager can be. The novel is a slice of life coming-of-age story that takes the reader back into the late 1970s women’s liberation movement. I hope the book is poignant while also having humorous undertones.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The title is a mouthful, I’ll grant you that. It’s a line from a poem I wrote long ago that found its way into this novel. It describes the sensation of being a lost or discarded baby doll washed up on a beach somewhere. It’s a metaphor for Livvy’s emotional state.
How did you celebrate publication day?
Publication day is Valentine’s Day so I plan on eating some fine chocolate and having a frothy latte with a dear friend and fellow writer.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
My work in progress features a character named Kaffy. She’s a strange sort of woman who fascinates me. I discovered her in a story I wrote a number of years ago about a woman who runs a little coffee shop next to a grave yard in Toronto. In my new book I’ve moved Kaffy near a forest and she’s running an old inn that she inherited from her grandmother. Kaffy gets into conflict with everyone she encounters but she doesn’t seem to realize that she is the common denominator.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months?
Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout. It’s absolutely magnificent. I am in awe.
What are you reading just now?
Currently, February 2020, I’m reading Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout. If you’re sensing a theme here you’re not mistaken. A reader told me that my writing reminded her of Elizabeth Strout’s so I decided to read everything Strout has written. I’d only read Olive Kitteridge and Lucy Barton in the past so I am having a blast reading all her books now.
Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?
I’d like to see A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing made into a film or TV series. I could see Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the funny main character.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I’m on Facebook as @SandyDayWriter. You can also find me on Twitter (very infrequently) as @sandeetweets. My Instagram is @sandeesnaps
From the back of the book
A tender story of love-obsession, the second novel from Sandy Day, Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand chronicles a young woman’s coming of age during the height of the 1970’s women’s liberation movement.
Teetering on the edge of womanhood, clinging to the first love of her life as if her survival depends on it, 17 year-old Livvy is torn between subjugating herself for love or claiming her identity and independence.
When Livvy, lovesick and artistic, spends the summer with the aunt she adores, she crosses paths with a cast of memorable characters in the coastal community of Margaree, Cape Breton Island.
While Livvy’s cousins torment her, house renovations disturb her, an annoying young islander tries to befriend and teach Livvy to disco dance, Livvy prepares for the much anticipated arrival of her boyfriend, Kane.
With poetic fluidity and breathtaking revelations Sandy Day draws you into Livvy’s obsession. Such a deep dive into the dire and agonizing crannies of a love-obsessed young woman establishes Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand as a memorable coming of age story.